Are robo-censors about to be unleashed online?

That’s a concern being raised by privacy advocates across the United States after a proposal was released by the European Commission that would have websites enter into agreements with copyright holders for automatic filtering of user-generated content, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

That’s been a developing issue, and officials with the Electronic Frontier Foundation are fighting what likely will be a landmark case brought by a mom who posted a 29-second video of her tiny son bouncing around to the Prince song “Let’s go crazy.”

YouTube informed Stephanie Lenz that Universal Music Publishing Group claimed that was a copyright infringement and the video had to be removed.

The court case asks a federal court to protect the fair use and free speech rights of the mother.

“Universal should not be using legal threats to try to prevent people from sharing home videos of their kids with family and friends,” an angry Lenz said.

EFF lawyer Marcia Hofmann noted that such maneuvers can so easily be used to “shut down online artists, political analysts, or – as in this case – ordinary families who simply want to share snippets of their day-to-day lives.”

Now the EFF has issued an alarm about a proposed “shadow regulation” that the European Commission is eyeing.

Such rules are “voluntary agreements” between companies that impose regulations on the Internet.

“Shadow Regulation can involve restrictions that are as effective as any law, but without the need for approval by a court or parliament,” EFF explained. “Indeed, sometimes Shadow Regulation is even initiated by government officials, who offer companies the Hobson’s choice of coming up with a ‘voluntary’ solution, or submitting to government regulation.”

The proposed robo-censor idea was suggested by the European Commission and it would allow for the automatic filtering of user-generated content. They would include vast categories of Web usage by those who post videos, blog, use Facebook and other social media to exchange information with friends and much, much more.

“The proposal, which some are calling RoboCopyright and others Europe’s #CensorshipMachine, would require many Internet platforms to integrate content scanning software into their websites to alert copyright holders every time it detected their content being uploaded by a user, without any consideration of the context,” EFF warned.

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

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